Should I travel on Christmas Eve? Latest on roads, trains, ferries and flights

As many as 21 million festive journeys are taking place on roads this week, with major engineering works affecting rail passengers

The Christmas getaway has begun with 22 and 23 December set to be the busiest days on roads, railways and at airports.

Around 21 million festive car journeys are taking place this week, according to the RAC, while engineering works will affect rail journeys across many parts of the country.

Eurostar has added services on Friday, Saturday and Sunday to clear a backlog following unexpected strikes by French workers that affected the Channel Tunnel on Thursday.


National Highways has said that 98 per cent of England’s motorways and major A roads will remain roadworks-free until 2 January.

However, with as many as 21 million festive journeys taking place this week until Christmas Eve – of which 60 per cent are forecast to be taken today, tomorrow and Sunday, according to the RAC – journey planning is advisable.

The motoring organisation says that the busiest time to travel this weekend is likely to be between midday and 2pm, urging drivers to avoid lunchtime and set off early.

Transport analytics specialist Inrix has said that daily delays of around 40 minutes are possible on the M25 clockwise west of Greater London, with the worst queue – up to an hour – expected between the M23 junction for Gatwick and the M40 junction for Birmingham on 23 December. Drivers heading anticlockwise should be prepared for delays between J17-12.

Further north, the M1 north between Woburn and Daventry and M6 south from Wigan and Stafford are likely to be very busy this weekend.

Roadworks remaining in place over Christmas are as follows:


  • A585, Windy Harbour (near Poulton le Fylde): 1.1 miles of roadworks  
  • A595, between Howgate roundabout and the Jct with Aikbank Road (near Whitehaven): 1.25 miles of roadworks   
  • M62 J36-J37 (near Howden): 3 miles of roadworks   
  • A616 Stocksbridge (near Stocksbridge): 0.3 miles of roadworks   
  • M62 J23-25 (near Huddersfield): 1.6 miles of roadworks   
  • M62 J25 (near Huddersfield): 0.4 miles of roadworks   
  • M6 Junctions 21a to 26: 10 miles of roadworks 


  • M4 eastbound J20 to 19 (near Bristol): 3 miles of roadworks   
  • M4 westbound J19 to 20 (near Bristol): 4 miles of roadworks   
  • M5 northbound J17 to 16 (near Bristol): 1 mile of roadworks   
  • M5 southbound J14 to J17 (near Bristol): 5 miles of roadworks   
  • M5 northbound J17 to J14 (near Bristol): 7.668 miles of roadworks   
  • M5 northbound J17 to J14 (near Bristol): 4.5 miles of roadworks   
  • M5 southbound J14 to J17 (near Bristol): 5.2 miles of roadworks   


  • M6 (near Walsall): 1 mile of roadworks   
  • M5 (near Strensham): 2 miles of roadworks   
  • A43 Barley Mow Roundabout to Towcester (near Brackley): 5 miles of roadworks   
  •  M42 Junction 5-6 (near Solihull): 2 miles of roadworks   
  • M42 Junction 6-5 (near Solihull): 2 miles of roadworks   
  • Middle Bickenhill Lane (near Middle Bickenhill in Solihull): 0.1 miles of roadworks – Nil to slight.  
  • Eastway (near Solihull): 0.1 miles of roadworks   
  • M6 Junctions 9 to 10 (near Walsall): 1 mile of roadworks   
  • A38 Junction Streethay – Junction Hilliard’s Cross (near Lichfield): 5 miles of roadworks   
  • M42/M6 Connector Roads (near Water Orton): 3 miles of roadworks   
  • M42 J7 on slip (MP35/1 – M6 171/7) and M6 northbound (MP170/3-171/4) (near Coleshill): 1.5 miles of roadworks   
  • Northway Island to A446 Northbound Slip (near Coleshill): 1 mile of roadworks   
  • A446 Southbound Slip Northway Island – A452 Chester Road (near Coleshill): 2 miles of roadworks  
  • A43 Oxford Road from Welsh Lane, Syresham to Northampton Road roundabout: 0.8 miles of roadworks   
  •  A5 Weeford – Fazeley (near Lichfield): 1 mile of roadworks   


  • A303 Podimore (near Yeovil): 7 miles of roadworks   
  • A303 Countess (near Amesbury): 4.696 miles of roadworks 
  • A303 Podimore to Sparkford Jct (near Yeovil): 5.6 miles of roadworks   
  • A30 Carland Cross (near Mitchell): 2 miles of roadworks   
  • A30 (near Truro): 2.5 miles of roadworks   
  • A30 (near Truro): A30 Chiverton Roundabout: 1 mile of roadworks   
  • A30 (near Truro): A30 Chiverton Contra-flow: 2 miles of roadworks   
  • A35 Chideock (near Chideock/Bridport): 0.5 miles of roadworks   


  • M11 J5 to J6 (near Chigwell): 0.35 miles of roadworks 
  • M1 J4 to J5 (near Watford): 0.3 miles of roadworks     
  • M25 J9-10 (near Wisley): 2.7 miles of roadworks   
  • M25 J10-9 (near Wisley): 2.7 miles of roadworks   
  • A3 southbound A245 to B2215 (near Wisley): 3.6 miles of roadworks   
  • A3 northbound B2215 to A245 (near Wisley): 3.6 miles of roadworks   
  • M25 J10 Gyratory (near Wisley): 0.2 miles of roadworks    
  • A27 both directions Tangmere to Bognor roundabout (near Chichester): 0.75 miles of roadworks   
  • A2 both directions Nackington to Bridge (near Canterbury): 1.25 miles of roadworks   
  • M27 westbound J8 (near Southampton): 0.69 miles of roadworks   
  • M27 eastbound Jct 8 (near Southampton): 0.5 miles of roadworks   
  • M27 J12 to A27 Bedhampton both directions (near Portsmouth): 2.5 miles of roadworks   
  • M3 northbound J4 to J3 (near Camberley): 1.35 miles of roadworks   
  • M3 southbound Junction 3 exit slip (near Camberley): 0.1 miles of roadworks   
  • M4 both directions J13 to J14 (near Newbury): 3.25 miles of roadworks   
  • A34 Bulllington A30 link road (near Basingstoke): 0.25 miles of roadworks    
  • A21 both directions Morley’s Roundabout to Pembury (near Royal Tunbridge Wells): 2.15 miles of roadworks   
  • A249 (near Sittingbourne): 0.9 miles of roadworks   


  • A12 from J25 to J27 (near Colchester): 2 miles of roadworks   
  • A12 from J16 to J12 (near Chelmsford): 2 miles of roadworks   
  • A14 from J47A to J49 (near Bury St Edmunds): 2 miles of roadworks   
  • M11 J8 Roundabout (near Bishop’s Stortford): 0.5 miles of roadworks   
  • A421 from A6 Elstow to M1 J13 (near Bedford): 2 miles of roadworks   
  • A12 J19 entry slip road (near Chelmsford): 0.5 miles of roadworks   
  • A421 (near Bedford/St Neots): 0.8 miles of roadworks  
  • A1(M) NB Jct 14 – 15 (near Peterborough): 5.5 miles of roadworks  


  • M180 J3 – J2 WB (near Scunthorpe): 0.5 miles of roadworks   
  • A1 Wentbridge (near Pontefract): 4.3 miles of roadworks  
  • A1 (near Pontefract): 1.5 miles of roadworks    
  • M621 Clockwise J1-J4 and anti-clockwise J6-J1 (near Leeds): 6 miles of roadworks   
  • M1 J42 (near Leeds): 1.8 miles of roadworks   
  • M1 J44-J46 (near Leeds): 6 miles of roadworks   
  • A63 Daltry Street to Myton Swing Bridge (near Hull): 1.4 miles of roadworks   
  • A1 North & South J65 to J67 (near Newcastle Upon Tyne): 3 miles of roadworks   


  • A465 is down to two lanes in each direction from Dowlais Top to Hirwaun (section 5 & 6) 
  • A470: essential works to address hazardous trees adjacent to northbound and southbound carriageways continue until April 2024.  
  • A40 between St Clears and Haverfordwest: mainly a single carriageway  


  • M9 southbound J4-J3: hard shoulder closed 
  • M8 J3: A899 down to single-lane traffic 
  • A9 Birnam and Logierait: northbound closed, temporary traffic lights for single-lane traffic 
  • A83 Aray Bridge–Inverary: temporary traffic lights 
  • For more, see and follow @trafficscotland on X (formerly Twitter) 


Some rail operators are expecting disruption over Christmas with a shortage of train crew, disruption following Storm Pia and increased passenger numbers among the challenges.

There are engineering works and upgrades taking place in some parts of the network that will affect many routes from Christmas Eve until the end of 2 January.

However, Network Rail says that More than 96 per cent of the rail network will be open for “business as usual” over the Christmas and New Year period.

On Christmas Eve, service on most routes concludes earlier than normal, and no trains will be running on Christmas Day.

In London, Paddington and King’s Cross stations will both be closed on Christmas Eve, meaning passengers will face lengthy diversions that might include travelling from other terminals or using replacement buses.

The King’s Cross closure is due to work taking place on the East Coast Main Line, while HS2 engineering means that Paddington will close for four days over Christmas.

These closures will affect journeys to and from Edinburgh, Leeds, Newcastle, York, Peterborough, south Wales, Bristol, the West Country, Thames Valley and Heathrow, among other destinations.

Heathrow will have no direct National Rail services to or from central London between Sunday 24 December and Wednesday 27 December inclusive.

Work near Southampton will see some disruption to services, as will work to build the new Cambridge South station. Diversions and alternatives are in place.

In Wales, rail replacement buses will run between Pontypridd and Treherbert on Christmas Eve. Rail services will mostly finish at 8pm on Christmas Eve, starting later than usual on 27 December.

In Scotland, Christmas Eve services will begin to wind down from 7pm. In the day, there will be disruption between Ayr and Prestwick Town / Girvan / Kilmarnock until at least the end of Sunday 28 January. Routes are also affected between Stranraer / Girvan and Kilmarnock, and between Ayr and Glasgow Central. Buses will run between Ayr and Prestwick Town at 20 and 50 past the hour.

National Rail has published details of the service each train company will be providing over Christmas.


Across Eurostar’s London routes, over 600,000 passengers are expected to travel between 15 December, 2023 and 7 January, 2024, with up to 35,000 passengers on the busiest days such as Boxing Day and 29 December.

The operator added four extra services on Friday and additional London–Paris round trips on Saturday and Sunday in an effort to clear a backlog of passengers after industrial action affected the Channel Tunnel on Thursday.

Air travel


Friday 22 December was expected to be the busiest day for UK departures over Christmas. According to data from aviation analytics firm Cirium, there are 493,632 seats scheduled from UK airports on Friday, 440,143 on 23 December and 381,472 on 24 December.

Travel to UK airports may be affected by reduced timetables for public transport and by road works over the Christmas period, this includes the Heathrow Express service from London Paddington.


Private airport security staff strikes are due to take place at Spain’s Alicante–Elche airport between 22–31 December and 1–14 January. A walk out by Ilunion Seguridad employees is expected to affect security and baggage handling from 8.45–9.45am and 6–7pm on strike days.

Industrial action by Iberia ground service workers has been delayed to 4–7 January (it was due to take place from 29 Dec–1 January).


Dover, the UK’s busiest ferry port, advised passengers of a 90-minute wait for French border controls on Friday following disruption caused by industrial action at the Channel Tunnel the previous day.

Travellers were advised not to arrive at Dover without a booking due to the high volumes of passengers on the Dover–Calais route.

P&O Ferries

Ferry routes will operate at the following times over Christmas:

Dover–Calais: On Christmas Eve, the final service from Dover will run at 1.15pm, with ferries expected to be busy.

Hull–Rotterdam (Europoort): There are no sailings between Hull and Europoort in either direction on 24, 25, 26, 31 December and 1 January.

Larne–Cairnryan: There are only three sailings in either direction on Christmas Eve: 8am, 12pm and 4pm

Irish Ferries

Irish Ferries has planned closures on the Irish Sea route between Britain and Ireland on 25 and 26 December, and a planned closure on the Dover–Calais route between Britain and France on 25 December. Normal timetables resume afterwards.


DFDS is running fewer services than usual between Dover and Calais on Christmas Eve. There are no services between Newcastle and Amsterdam on 24 or 25 December.

Brittany Ferries

Brittany Ferries is running a normal service until Christmas Eve, with normal sailings resuming on Boxing Day

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